Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Meatloaf : Singing or Eating?

Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947), better known by his stage name Meat Loaf is an American rock musician and actor.

My favourite Meatloaf song is "Anything for Love" - And I would do anything for love, I'd run right into hell and back, I would do anything for love, I'll never lie to you and that's a fact. I Would do anything for love, Anything you've been dreaming of, But I just wont do that..."

As a an 80's child - I like my Rock stars to have lots of make -up, long unkempt hair and sing heart wrenching love ballads.  I don't like love songs which are soft and weepy (yawn) - like Celine Dion, Justin Bieber or Mylie Cyrus -  I'm a Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi and of course Meatloaf kinda girl.

So, you ask, why do I think you are interested my music choice? Well it ties into what I made for dinner last night meatloaf (with a small m). Maybe I'm crazy, But it's crazy and it's true - I would do anything for love, even make meatloaf!

Just like an 80's rock star, it's not pretty to look at, but it tastes great!

Rock Star Meatloaf with Ginger Tomato Sauce

500g Minced Beef
1 Onion Grated
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Dried chili
4 Cloves of Garlic Crushed
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
10 Mushrooms Sliced

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC
In a bowl mix all the ingredients well together, except the mushrooms.
Layer the bottom of a loaf tin with the sliced mushrooms.
Top the mushrooms with the mince mixture.
Cover the tin with foil.
Bake in the oven for 60 minutes.
Place the tomato sauce in the loaf tin and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.

Tomato Sauce

4 Fresh Tomatoes peeled and roughly chopped
1 piece of Ginger the size of your thumb, peeled and shredded
1 Green Chili Chopped
6 Sun dried tomatoes
30ml Rice Vinegar
15ml Sugar

Mix this together in a baking dish with a lid.

Bake covered, separately, in the oven for 60 minutes with the meatloaf.
Pour over the meatloaf and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.
Serve hot.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Happy ever After Health Bread

Once upon a time in the land of the Table Mountain, there lived a fair maiden. This maiden was very happy, she spent her carefree days being doted on by her loving parents. Her Mother and Father provided all her needs, never requesting her to cook or clean.

The maiden would buy magazines that told her about fashion and beauty and when she read a book it would always be a love story. She paid no attention to recipes, unless she was glancing at a diet, for which she had no use.

One day, quite unexpectedly, the fair maiden met a prince from the Northern City of Gold. He was dashing and handsome and after a short courtship the prince and the maiden were married at ceremony surrounded by friends and loved ones.

The maiden moved into the prince's palace and enjoyed having her own home. She set to work on being a good wife. It took many moons before the maiden finally got the hang of buying stores for the larder and planning meals to cook for the prince and the rest of the court.

It was during this time that the maiden changed. Food, recipes, cooking and baking began to become increasingly more important in her life. She no longer bought glossy magazines featuring the latest fashions, but scoured the shops from many lands, for books and magazines on food, recipes and exotic ingredients.

She spent hours and hours on the Internet drooling over pictures of more food, printing 1000's of recipes - all of which she planned to make "one day", even though this would mean she would have to live to be 167 years old to complete such a task.

The maiden grew older and wiser - yet still she continues her passion for food and recipes. She has made friends with like minded maidens, princesses (and a few princes), who are equally passionate about food and cooking, they call themselves foodies and bloggers.

One recipe the maiden kept in her treasure chest (as part of her trousseau) is Pam's Health Bread. She no longer remembers who Pam is, but is still grateful to her for this recipe.  It is a wonderfully versatile recipe and can be adapted to what can be found in the pantry (which was very handy before the maiden knew how to food shop).

Pam's Health Bread

4 Cups Nutty Wheat Flour
1 Cup Bran
10ml Salt
50ml Dark Molasses
1 Sachet Instant Dried Yeast
60ml Chopped Walnuts Nuts (optional and exchangeable to whatever nuts you might have)
60ml Seed Mix (sunflower, pumpkin, linseed, sesame)
2-3 Cups of Warm Water

Pre-heat the oven to 180C
 Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Then add enough warm water to make a soft dough.
Place the dough in a bread pan and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 - 45 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Chicken Biryani Made Easy

I stand by the belief that home made food is better than take outs or ready made meals. It not only makes economical sense but you know exactly what is going into your meals and there are no hidden fats, sodium or preservatives. It's highly unlikely the average home has bottles of calcium propionate, sodium nitrate ,or  methylchloroisothiazolinone sitting in their pantry.

 With that said, even Father Christmas has elves help him make the presents for Christmas and I have no problem buying pre-made ingredients to help produce a great meal without added fuss. They are also great for those of us that are learning new cuisines, like curry.

There are days when I will use fresh spices, dry fry them and grind them up to make my own spice mix, but there are some great ready made spice mixtures, which I have found that can create lovely meals, with minimum fuss.

One such product I have recently discovered is from a company in India, sold in most local supermarkets called Curry Tree. They have no preservatives, no hydrogenated vegetable fat, are 100% natural and are gluten free. They have easy to follow recipes on the box and need no exotic or expensive ingredients to create authentic dishes packed with flavour.

Yesterday I bought the Curry Tree Chicken Biryani. While the recipe provided was simple to follow, I have changed it slightly and I was very impressed with the result. Once again, I did the "all in one pot cooking" in the oven - less fuss and less washing up!

Chicken Biryani with Curry Tree Spices
Adapted from the recipe supplied by Curry Tree

1 Packet Curry Tree Chicken Biryani
8 Chicken Thighs
300ml Plain Yoghurt
300ml Water
300g Plain White Rice
2 Teaspoons Crushed dried Chilli (optional if you like it hotter)
1 Pinch Saffron (optional)
Chopped fresh Coriander (optional for garnish)

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC
In a pot which can go on the stove and oven, brown the chicken until golden (don't add extra oil).
Mix the yoghurt,1 teaspoon of the chilli and the Curry Tree spice in a bowl.

Pour the yoghurt mix into the chicken and combine.
Pour over the rice and then the water and sprinkle the saffron and other teaspoon of chilli on top.
Allow the mix to come back to heat - slow bubble.
Place a layer of foil over the top of the pot and then place the lid on to make it completely sealed.
Place in the oven for 60-80 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve sprinkled with some chopped fresh coriander.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Banana Cake with Lime Frosting

Bananas in pyjamas
Are coming down the stairs
Bananas in pyjamas
Are coming down in pairs
Bananas in pyjamas
Are chasing teddy bears
'Cause on Tuesdays
They all try to
Catch them unawares

Do you remember this song? I used to sing it with my niece when she was little. This same niece got married this weekend, oh how time flies when you getting old!

I don't know how many of you experience this, but bananas in our house seem to turn from perfectly ripe, to beautifully sweet but bruised and black when you turn your back. I often get stuck with the odd one or two bananas that no one will eat, but are perfect for smoothies and baking.

I often make banana bread, which is always well received, but yesterday I decided to try something a little different - banana cake with lime icing. What a wonderful find, it is very moist and the lime icing really is "the icing on the cake"!
It is very easy to make and perfect for a quick cake using those last over ripe bananas - especially when they are really well past their eating prime.

Banana Cake with Lime Icing
 You can double this recipe and make a layer cake with a lime butter frosting.

125g Butter (Soft)
125g Castor Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Bananas Mashed (Medium)
2.5ml Vanilla Seeds (or 5ml Vanilla Essence)
5ml Orange Blossom Water (optional)
2.5ml Bi-carbonate of Soda
30ml Milk
500ml Self Raising Flour

Pre-heat the oven to 180C
Grease a 20cm x 10cm deep round cake tin.

Cream the butter and the sugar together.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Add the bananas, the vanilla and the orange blossom water.
Dissolve the bi-carbonate in the milk.
Add the bi-carbonate to the mixture.
Sift in the flour and fold in to combine.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave the cake for 5 minutes in the tin and then remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Lemon Icing
150ml Icing Sugar
Juice of one Lime

Sift the icing sugar, add the lime juice and stir until smooth.
Pour over the cake, once the cake is cooled and allow to dry.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Apple and Date Delight

 This weeks Lavender and Lime challenge is Something Sweet with Baked Apples.

I decided to keep it really simple, as the apples at this time of the year are delicious and don't need much fiddling with to enjoy their wonderful flavour.

Baked Apple with Dates and Nuts

1 large Granny Smith Apple per serving

4 Fresh Dates, pitted (per serving)
1 teaspoon Coconut oil (in solid form)
2 teaspoons Chopped Nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC
Core the apple ¾ of the way through. This ensures that the mixture does not all drop out the bottom when baking.
Score the apple around the circumference, so it does not burst while baking.
Mix the remainder of the ingredients together and stuff the apple.
Bake for 20-30 minutes and serve hot.
Pour the baking juices over the apple before serving.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Kumquat Marmalade

What's the best part of the end of winter? The beginning of summer!

Preserving is a becoming increasingly popular (judging by blogs and cookbooks available), after many years of everyone being caught up in the fast and convenient food culture. I don't do much preserving, except jams and marmalades.

I love making marmalades especially since it is by far more popular in my home than jam.  A bottle of strawberry jam will last long into the next strawberry season - not so with a marmalade.

I have perfected the art of lemon marmalade, which I make throughout the year. This week I thought I would try making something I have grown up knowing and seeing often, but never actually eaten or cooked with - Kumquats.

Kumquats are widely available at the moment and on impulse I took a bag before sanity could prevail and I am so glad that I did. This preserve / marmalade is sweet with a lovely tang of ginger and of course kumquat.

Kumquat and Ginger Marmalade

1kg Kumquats (washed and then cut 1cm trough the length - not all the way)
Thumb size knob of Ginger, peeled and finely shredded)
1kg of Sugar
Juice of 1 Large Lemon


Place the kumquats and ginger in a large saucepan, and cover generously with water.
Boil for between 1½  hours.
The longer you boil the fruit the less time you'll need to boil with the sugar to reach setting point.
Once the fruit is soft add the sugar.
Stir the sugar until it has dissolved and then allow to boil without stirring, removing any scum.
Once it has reached setting point (4º - 5ºC above water boiling point), add the lemon juice.
Remove from the heat.
Allow to cool slightly and then pour into sterilized jars and seal tightly.
Serve on hot buttered toast!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Ready Steady Cook - Start

Ready Steady Cook hosted by Add to Taste
This challenge has taken me almost 3 weeks to get to the start! It's been more like reading Jodi Picoult than Leon Uris

With the ingredients I have left to make my starter, you might understand why I've been at odds and ends starts. I have yet to use my dates, chilli and 2 leeks (used some in the main).

So after 2 weeks of procrastination I went through the store cupboard ingredients and fell back on one which is never missing from my pantry - canned tomatoes.

Lucky for me today was chilly enough to attempt a something which has had me stumped almost everyday since I first got my ingredient list.

Tomato Leek and Date Soup

1 large Tin of Whole canned Tomatoes
2 Large Leeks washed and finely sliced.(White part only)
1 Clove of Garlic
10 Fresh Dates (stones removed)
10ml papricka
1 Green Chilli
Salt and pepper for seasoning.
Garnish : A small piece of leftover leek and thinly shredded and deep fried until golden brown

In a pot, fry the leeks, garlic, chill and dates until the leeks are softened.
Add the rest of the ingredients with about 350ml water and simmer for about 1 hour.
Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.
Purée the soup until smooth.
Serve hot, garnish with a drizzle of  olive oil and fried leeks.

How good is this soup? Very good, just look at the bowl...yummy!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Meatless Commitment Continues

Sometimes when I make a commitment to something, I go hell bent for leather and then cool off  into a steady rhythm of nothingness. This is true with numerous diets, exercise regimes, gym contracts and promising to cook every meal from scratch. I can be a bit of a fader, I bore easily and need consistent motivation to keep my focus on a repetitive task.

Last month I decided to join the City of Cape Town's call for a once a week meatless meal program and I'm happy to proclaim that I have remained fully committed to this. This has not been a difficult task to remain focused on, because every week is a new experience in creativity.

This week I took what is essentially a puttanesca sauce, with a twist to accommodate family tastes.You will notice that I have used a large quantity of parsley (Jamie Oliver would use basil), I love the fresh flavour, but if you're not a big fan you can either substitute torn basil or reduce the quantity.

Pasta Puttanesca Rose (and yes I know what puttanesca means!)

3 Ripe Tomatoes (skinned and chopped into dice)
2 Onions Chopped finely
2 Green Chillies chopped
3 Garlic Cloves Chopped
1 410g Tin Chopped peeled Tomatoes
7 bottled Anchovies (7 fillets not 7 bottles!)
1 Sachet Tomato paste (50g)
10ml Sugar
2 Bay Leaves
10ml chopped fresh Oregano
2 large handfuls of Fresh Parsley
400g Penne Pasta (cooked to instructions)

Fry the onions and the anchovies until the anchovies have melted and the onions are soft.
Add the the rest of the ingredients, except the parsley (and the pasta).
Add enough water to allow a simmer, without drying out.
Simmer on a low heat for at least 60 minutes.
Cook the pasta as per instructions on the box / packet.
Drain the pasta and stir the sauce into the pasta and leave in the hot pot with the lid on for 5-7 minutes - This allows the pasta to absorb the flavours of the sauce better.
Stir in the parsley (if using) and serve.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Lamb Rogan Josh

This last weekend I had the Lamb Curry King of the North, stay with us, together with his lovely wife Marilyn.

As Jane-Anne Hobbs, writing the Scrumptious South Africa blog, rightly described food bloggers as “desperate for attention” at the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, I stepped up to the plate stove - desperate for attention and praise for being able to create a lamb curry for the most renowned curry maker I know.

I decided to go for Rogan Josh, a mild curry with fragrant with spices and mellowed by the yoghurt.

I am proud to proclaim this was a resounding success, and to quote the Curry King: "I couldn't do better myself"!
Lamb Rogan Josh

Lamb Rogan Josh

1kg Lamb Knuckle (traditionally you should use lamb neck)
250ml Plain Yoghurt
3 Cloves of crushed Garlic
2" piece of Crushed Ginger
2 Tablespoons Black Vinegar (not balsamic)
2 Medium Onions Finely Chopped
300 -500ml Lamb or Chicken Stock

Spice Blend
2 teaspoons Cumin
3 teaspoon Coriander
1 teaspoon Fennel
3 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
4 teaspoons Dried Chilli
5 Green Cardamom Pods (crushed)
3 Cloves Crushed
4 Large Potatoes peeled and cut in half

In a dry pan, roast the spices until fragrant, then crush in a mortar and pestle. 
Marinade the meat, the crushed spices, the yoghurt and the vinegar overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 140ºC
In a oven and stove proof casserole.
Brown the onions and the meat (with the marinade) until lightly browned.
Add the stock.
Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours at least, until meat is tender.
Add the potatoes, check there is enough liquid and cook for a further hour until potatoes are cooked.
Serve with steamed white rice, sambals and cucumbers in plain yoghurt.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Pasta Challenge : Lavender and Lime

This week's meatless meal is part of Lavender and Limes weekly challenge.

The challenge for this week is to make a pasta dish using 5 ingredients. These 5 ingredients do not include the pasta, olive oil or seasoning but you have to use 5.

This is a perfect vegetarian meal or a simple light meal for days when you've overindulged on meat for too long.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Verjuice
Per person
250g Vegetables ( I used butternut, onion, red pepper and courgettes)
10ml of Verjuice per serving
A big handful of fresh Parsley, roughly chopped.
Olive Oil
150g Penne Pasta per serving

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
Roast the vegetables with verjuice and olive oil until soft.
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
Combine the pasta and the roasted vegetables, and include the oil and juices in the roasting pan too.
Stir in the parsley and serve with a good grinding of black pepper.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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